Have you ever wondered what’s up with the mindful movement and the words “mantra”, “intention”, and “affirmation”? You simply can’t go to a yoga class, scroll the web, or chat with friends without hearing these words thrown around. What is a mantra, what are the benefits, and is it just some airy fairy, hippie dippy, chit chat?
Mantra, according to Merriam Webster Dictionary, is defined as a “mystical formula of invocation” stemming from the root word ‘mind’.
It does all sound a bit magical, doesn’t it?
Another way to think of a mantra is by creating an elongated sound that usually resonates somewhere in the body and is classically spoken in Sanskrit, or creating a longer phrase. An intention then stems from creating a goal and setting your eyes on the prize. An affirmation turns your intention into an “I am…” sentence as if you’ve already achieved that goal.
Mantra ~ Shanti (or) Peace is within me.
Intention ~ I want to be more peaceful towards my colleagues.
Affirmation ~ I am peace.
You’ll often hear these words interchangeably, and for the sake of the rest of this blurb, I’ll be referring to this powerful phrase as ‘mantra’.
Now, back to it. There’s actually proven science behind the power of reciting a mantra.
We start to utilise our unconscious mind to follow our goals. This place in our brain is called the Reticular Activating System (RAS). The RAS is responsible for scanning and processing all the stimuli we encounter every second of our days - which is a whole lot of information! When walking down the street, listening to music, sitting at our desk, etc., the RAS is working hard to determine what it thinks are the important bits of information we want to know and then sends this information into to our conscious mind. Essentially, hidden information laying dormant in our sub/unconscious minds is brought forth into our awareness as the RAS picks up on various stimuli from our environment.
So what does this have to do with our mantra?
When we start telling ourselves over and over again that "we are peace", our brains will naturally start to pick up on stimuli around us which then helps us practice more peacefulness. We become aware of things we may have never noticed before. It’s like, when you buy a car, and you’ve never seen that car on the street before and - BOOM - you see five of those same cars driving down the road! Or you start to pick up on the lyrics of a song as if they were written directly for you. You may even start to notice your colleague sitting next to you isn’t so bad after all.
By setting a goal, then turning it into an affirmative mantra, repeating it out loud every morning and night (as it’s also proven speaking words aloud is more powerful than saying them in your head), your hard working RAS will start to filter the information you seek to help you attain your goal.
Some neat stuff, hey?!
This mantra movement actually has some science backing the seemingly airy fairy fluff that’s consistently being blasted in your yoga class, social media, or just by that one hippie friend of yours.